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The Pittsburgh Penguins have to be in any discussion of teams that are considered Stanley Cup contenders.
While the Penguins have not hit their stride yet, they are still 10-5-0. They have been particularly effective on the road, winning seven of their first nine away from home. Strangely, they are just 3-3-0 at the CONSOL Energy Center.
Any time the Penguins can take the ice with a healthy Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, they are formidable. Crosby has already scored 21 points and is tied for second in league scoring with Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Malkin has 17 points but just three goals. Once he starts to get productive in that area, the Penguins could get on a roll.
The Sabres are coming off a 4-2 victory over the Boston Bruins on Feb. 15, one of their best efforts of the season. The Sabres were ordinary in the first two periods, but they outscored Boston 3-0 in the third period.
That's no small feat, because the Bruins may be the best third-period team in the league.
Vanek has been explosive this year. He had two five-point games in January.
The biggest issue for the Sabres has been consistency. They usually follow one good game with two bad ones. Head coach Lindy Ruff's Sabres must turn this around if they are going to make the playoffs.